I accidentally stung a good friend this week with my words. I had leapt before looking, misread her and ignored her guardrails, jumping right off a cliff. And let me tell you, it felt awful at impact. OOF. I thought I was being encouraging, but what I ended up doing was making her feel unheard and unloved. So much for thoughts counting. In my case they only caused her to feel discounted by me.
When I opened her initial, cold and abrupt email response, it quaked my heart and placed our friendship on the craggy ledge of uncertainty. Friendship is a trust exercise, and I had let her fall instead of making her feel held and safe. I felt a hot rush of sadness and regret well up and typed - "I didn't mean to offend you...I am so sorry, please forgive me friend".
The short wait to hear back from her felt like suffocation, like being under water too long, lungs and heart burning, desperate and longing for air.
She wrote back "I forgave you right away".
I exhaled in glorious relief. She held out an olive branch of peace and a new dawn for us; I reached out and received, releasing the fear. My whole body relaxed, filled with gratitude for another chance with my dear friend whom I cherish.
"Gracious words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healing for the body." (Proverbs 16:24)
What I had torn, her gracious words quickly stitched back together. She did not make me sit in the dark corner of anxiety and unease, but instead, took my hand and forgave first, before I even asked. A true friend indeed. She was Christlike to me in that moment and I will never forget it.
I called her and we spoke, friend to friend, clearing the remaining thick, grey air between us and I told her once again how sorry I was and that I wanted her to know she would be safe with me. She said she knew she was and the clouds lifted; making a way forward.
I open my morning devotional and God speaks, once again, intimately to me:
"Pause before responding to people or situations, giving My Spirit space to act through you. Hasty words and actions leave no room for Me; this is atheistic living. I want to inhabit all of your moments - gracing your thoughts, words, and behavior." - Jesus Calling, Sarah Young
Yes, Lord. I need you in all moments to help me do better and lead me into the bountiful olive grove of Grace. Thank You for my friend's gift to me this week and for Your gift to us all: Forgiveness freely given, offered each and every time; even before we ask.
Question: Have you ever hurt someone and been forgiven like this? Is there someone you need to offer an olive branch of grace to now?